- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2001

A federal judge is expected to rule today on whether to issue a temporary restraining order preventing the sponsor of the World War II Memorial from signing a contract to immediately begin building the monument on the Mall.
A temporary restraining order would prevent the American Battle Monuments Commission, the memorials sponsor, from signing the contract for at least 10 days.
U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr.s ruling will come four days after opponents of the planned memorial filed a lawsuit challenging a law signed by President Bush last week that bars any further judicial review of the memorial site and design. The memorial is slated to go up at the Rainbow Pool between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.
In their lawsuit, the National Coalition to Save Our Mall and the World War II Veterans to Save the Mall said the legislation is unconstitutional because it encroaches on judicial powers. They also said the law does not prohibit a court from considering their claim that the environmental review of the project was inadequate.
The opponents said after the hearing that although the new law prevents judicial review of the memorials site and design plans, it does not nullify their earlier claim that planners violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Justice Department officials declined to comment on the case yesterday.
At a court hearing yesterday, an attorney representing the memorials opponents argued that the government violated at least four federal statutes, including the environmental act, when it planned the project.
Attorney Andrea Ferster told Judge Kennedy the National Park Service violated the NEPA because it did not prepare an adequate environmental-impact statement, to determine the memorials effect on its surroundings. In her argument, Ms. Ferster referred to a 1998 statement filed by the Park Service that indicated the memorial would have "no significant impact" on the environment.
Ms. Ferster told the judge the agencys finding did not consider the issues of building a sunken plaza within a flood plain.
"If they find that the project will impact the environment in some way, it will lead them to make design modifications that will allow the memorial to be built in a way that wont hurt the environment," Ms. Ferster said after the hearing.
An attorney with the Justice Department argued the project no longer falls under the NEPA statute because of the congressional action that was taken last week. Attorney Silas DeRoma also argued the commission has received special construction permits that would protect the Malls environment.
Mr. DeRoma also repeatedly cited a section of the law that said the project would be constructed "expeditiously" with plans and permits that had previously been approved by various government agencies.
Mr. DeRoma also assured the judge that construction of the project will not begin until after the day after July 4 festivities on the Mall.

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